MARRIAGE AND THE CHURCH
This week we have the unique opportunity of blessing a marriage … at church … on a Sunday morning! This rare event used to be the norm in the early days of the church … and may be again!
The church has been debating for decades what do to about the wedding chapel syndrome, that is, couples turning to the church for the sacrament of marriage for the sake of a really great photo backdrop, a centre aisle, and stained glass windows. Some churches see a marketing opportunity and charge couples thousands of dollars to perform the ceremony. Others take the opposite approach, turning couples away if they are not church members.
At St. Stephen’s we do not regard the lack of a church background as an impediment to a couple wanting to be married here … as long as they are prepared to attend a Sunday morning service and participate in an authorized form of marriage preparation. So couples enjoy getting married here and we enjoy a 10% retention rate of couples who decide to become members.
Still, the legal ceremony and the sacrament do not coexist happily. For one thing, the marriage license protects the couples’ interests in the event of divorce, while the priest is pronouncing the church’s blessing upon a lifelong union! So many suggest that couples ought to have the legal part done, and then come to the church for a blessing … separately. This week’s service may be a sign of things to come.